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ESA Lunar Lander

Europe’s Plans to Visit the Moon in 2018

27 Jul , 2012


The European Space Agency is aiming for the Moon with their Lunar Lander mission, anticipated to arrive on the lunar surface in 2018. Although ESA successfully put a lander on Titan with the Huygens probe in 2005, this will be the first European spacecraft to visit the surface of Earth’s Moon.

Although Lunar Lander will be an unmanned robotic explorer, the mission will be a forerunner to future human exploration of the Moon as well as Mars. Lunar Lander will use advanced technologies for autonomous landing and will be able to determine the best location for touchdown on its own, utilizing lasers to avoid obstacles on the Moon’s surface.

With no GPS on the Moon, Lunar Lander will navigate by digitally imaging the surface on the fly. Landing will be accomplished via thrusters, which were successfully tested earlier this year at a test chamber in Germany.

Lunar Lander’s destination will be the Moon’s south pole, where no exploration missions have ever landed. Once on the lunar surface, the Lander will investigate Moon dust using a robotic arm and a suite of onboard diagnostic instruments, sending data and images back to scientists on Earth for further study.

Watch a video of the Lunar Lander mission below, from launch to landing.

Read more about Lunar Lander on the ESA site here.

Images and video: ESA

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Torbjorn Larsson OM
Torbjorn Larsson OM
July 27, 2012 2:04 PM
Wow, I didn’t know about this and it raises so many questions. – It is developed as a forerunner to Mars landings. So is ExoMars moved back a few years now? (Likely not, because the new precision landing technology will be different from the Viking EDL type.) – Do we know that sampling Moon dust is any easier than sampling Mars dust? See the Phoenix troubles; that sample mechanism seems pretty naive to me. – Why the cheesy music and the absence of describing science results? “Lunar Lander’s primary goal is to demonstrate the advanced technologies needed to land precisely and safely.” Granted, but they don’t describe the soil analysis much even at the site. “Recent orbiting missions… Read more »
John Sheff
July 27, 2012 2:20 PM

Actually, it won’t be the first European spacecraft to visit the Moon; that was the SMART-1 lunar orbiter, in 2003-2006. This will be the first to land on the Moon.

Jason Major
July 27, 2012 2:25 PM

True – to visit the lunar surface. Semantics win; edited to fix.

July 27, 2012 6:02 PM

I don’t want a lander, I want a big mean rover with a live web cam that can be controlled from my seat in turns.

Jason Major
July 27, 2012 7:24 PM

There’s always the Lunar X Prize…